Linda Gregerson

(August 5, 1950 / Illinois)


Poem by Linda Gregerson

said my mother when the buildings fell,

before, you understand, we knew a thing
about the reasons or the ways

and means,
while we were still dumbfounded, still

bereft of likely narratives, We cannot
continue to live in a world where we

have so much
and other people have so little.

Sweet, he said.
Your mother’s wrong but sweet, the world

has never self-corrected,
you Americans break my heart.

Our possum—she must be hungry or
she wouldn’t venture out in so

much daylight—has found
a way to maneuver on top of the snow.

Thin crust. Sometimes her foot breaks through.
The edge

of the woods for safety
or for safety’s hopeful lookalike. Di-

delphus, ‘double-wombed,’ which is
to say, our one marsupial:

the shelter then
the early birth, then shelter perforce again.

Virginiana for the place. The place
for a queen

supposed to have her maidenhead.
He was clever.

He had moved among the powerful.
Our possum—possessed

of thirteen teats, or so
my book informs me, quite a ready-made

her blind and all-but-embryonic

young to their pouch
by licking a path from the birth canal.

Resourceful, no? Requiring
commendable limberness, as does

the part I’ve seen, the part
where she ferries the juveniles on her back.

Another pair of eyes above
her shoulder. Sweet. The place

construed as yet-to-be-written-upon-

And many lost. As when
their numbers exceed the sources of milk

or when the weaker ones fall
by the wayside. There are

principles at work, no doubt:
beholding a world of harm, the mind

will apprehend some bringer-of-harm,
some cause, or course,

that might have been otherwise, had we possessed
the wit to see.

Or ruthlessness. Or what? Or heart.
My mother’s mistake, if that’s

the best the world-as-we’ve-made-it
can make of her, hasn't

much altered with better advice. It’s
wholly premise, rather like the crusted snow.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Poem Edited: Wednesday, September 14, 2011